Cookbook Review---

12 Best Foods Cookbook Cover 12 Best Foods Cookbook: Dana Jacobi
336 Pages, Softcover with Color Photographs
2005 by Rodale, Inc. $21.95 US

Reviewed for Good Cooking by Herb Thomas, December 2005

I thoroughly enjoyed Dana Jacobi’s cookbook titled “12 Best Foods Cookbook”. It was a delight to read and review. I especially enjoyed the little factoids of food throughout the book--nutritional information that was new to me, as well as beneficial and instructive. The potential for me eating a healthy diet from this 
cookbook has lifestyle changing influence. I can understand the recipes in her book easily and was even able to follow the directions without any problem. Dana Jacobi has included everything in her  cookbook that anyone would need to start reading about nutrition and nutritional cooking. For example, I found out that although chocolate is high in fat, it is a neutral type of fat that does not 
elevate cholesterol levels in the same way saturated fat does. Not only are the pictures appealing, but they contribute to the end results needed to motivate cooking. The conversion charts located in the back of the book were equally useful for understanding measurements. Committing this information to memory is considered one of the most important and useful tools in the kitchen. Of course 
posting a copy on the refrigerator is equally good! The dish that I attempted was sweet potato carrot soup on page 80. It was so good! I found her recipe to work out just as she wrote it. My good friend and neighbor also enjoyed it.

Makes 4 servings

Roasting brings out the sweetness in the potatoes and carrots, enhancing the flavor of this thick puree. Each special garnish gives the soup a different personality

Cutting the vegetables and apple to different sizes lets them roast to the proper point at the same time. 

FOOD FACT---Shallots, like garlic and onions, add heart-protecting sulfur compounds to dishes.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 pounds Beauregard, Garnet; or jewel yam, cut in 2 "pieces
1 large carrot, cut in 1"pieces
I Fuji apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or canola oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the oil over the yam, carrot, and apple to coat them. Spread them in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, lift the peels off the sweet potato piece
2. Heat the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot until soft, 5 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables, apple, and broth. When the liquid boils, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the carrot is soft, 20 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in a blender. Season it to taste with salt and pepper. Lad] into 4 deep soup bowls, garnish as preferred, and serve.

Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon, choosing from: Cranberries -Homemade or canned chunky relish, adds tangy contrast Sautéed sliced mushrooms-Bring out the root vegetables' earthy flavor, Flaked hot smoked salmon -Also called kippered salmon (page 17); adds richness


The mild curry powder I like best is sold in Chinese and Southeast Asian food markets. It has a lovely combination of gentle heat and sweet spices like fennel coriander, and cinnamon. It is particularly suited to this stir-fry where chew pan-crisped tofu drinks up the golden sauce. Served over rice noodles, this dish is reminiscent of Shanghai Noodles. It can also be served over brown rice.

FOOD FACT---Asparagus are the richest source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, which protects the body's cells from free radical damage that can lead to cancer.

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry sherry
I tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoons grated or finely chopped ginger
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
8 asparagus, cut in 1" pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 tofu steaks, cut in I" cubes and pan crisped (page 22), or 1 pound firm tofu, pressed and cubed (page 22)

1. In a measuring cup, combine the cornstarch, curry powder, and sugar. Mix in the sherry, soy sauce, and broth, leaving the spoon in the cup. Set aside. 

2. Heat the oil in a wok over the highest possible heat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the onion, asparagus, and pepper, and stir-fry until they are brightly colored, 1 minute. Add the tofu. 

3. Stir the seasoning sauce and pour it into the wok. Stir-fry until the sauce boils and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
Makes 4 servings